Mallory Mckewen, like many young women, started noticing a big frustration when it came to wedding seasons and being a bridesmaid: dresses.
It is the pinnacle of the wedding, the aesthetic of the bride, groom and their respective wedding parties. However, when it comes to bridesmaid dresses, the challenge is the hassle of inevitable alterations and costs, not to mention the fact that oftentimes the dress is only worn once! Having that same (or similar) dress fit each bridesmaid properly so everyone feels and looks good is important, but it becomes a costly and tumultuous adventure for everyone involved. Having gone through this frustration herself and with friends expressing the same thoughts, Mallory knew there had to be a way to make this easier and more cost-effective for women everywhere.
That is when the company, BridesMade was created.
A New Approach to Bridesmaid Dresses
Mallory wanted to create a business that gives women the option to rent-a-dress, rather than buy the dress out-right. The biggest issue, especially for twenty-something women who are often involved in several weddings a year, is the cost. A dress typically costs $300- $400 dollars and more after alterations. On top of that, the dress is realistically only worn that one time. Mallory was determined to make the lives of twenty-something women easier and to fulfill her promise to customers, to keep the costs low.
But with all the different sizes and alterations required to make a dress fit just right… it still ended up being quite costly, and with the rental option, it meant future alterations once again. She knew there had to be another way. After a ton of research, tests, trial and error, and feedback, the company decided to make a pivot in the business model to offer a better solution to bridesmaids.
A New Approach: The Affordable and Adjustable Dress
This business model pivot meant taking a new, innovative approach to the current pricey bridesmaid industry. Mallory decided the only way to create a rentable, reusable and cost effective dress for bridesmaids, would mean creating an original line of adjustable dresses.
This change for the business was an uneasy but necessary one to make as Mallory recalls, “I was nervous, being that I don’t have a background in fashion – but from a finance and numbers perspective, I knew this was the answer to solve the current frustrations, so we decided to go all in with both feet.” That change lead to a system and a product line that not only works and helps customers from a cost standpoint, but delights bridal parties in how stress free and easy it is.
The company uses software which records all dress orders, measurements, colours, styles, costs, etc. They in turn use data to show women what dress styles and colours are recommended based on their sizes and requests. Once all the data is collected from the bridesmaids, the product is sent to production and delivered with ample time before the big day. Mallory explains the choice they give their clients,
“We give women the choice to rent or buy the dresses too. It is easy to rent and reuse, because the dresses are adjustable, keeping costs low for everyone involved. Some women opt to buy because with an adjustable dress, it can be used again and again for multiple occasions. Either way, we are happy because we created a system and product that helps women and makes their lives and those special occasions easier to plan for. Without that dress-stress, it leaves more space to genuinely enjoy their time and celebrate the occasion. That makes what we do worth it!”
When making that business model pivot, Mallory had to establish relationships with factories and manufacturers who could construct and make these dresses. During that time, she also brought on a partner to help scale the business, COO, Kaleah Baker of Calgary. A year ago, they had more demand than they could supply and knew that with the new idea for adjustable dresses, they were on to something big, but needed support. That is where the AC Jumpstart program came into the picture.
AC Jumpstart = Game Changer
Mallory recalls how BridesMade joined the program at the most optimal time. With the capital they were able to establish key manufacturer relationships, to create their first line of dresses, which allowed them to backfill orders, work more weddings and test out the product with ideal clients.
“The mentorship was so helpful. When we started this business, we never imagined that we would end up creating lines of dresses. To set up those types of key relationships with fashion experts, manufacturers and production companies who could make the dresses adjustable in the ways our data said was required, was something we learned how to do with the help of valuable mentorship. Before Jumpstart we had officially worked with one wedding party. Over the course of the last summer, we have now successfully serviced 50-60 weddings with 100% satisfaction in our customer feedback. It’s only up from here.”
Both capital and the invaluable mentorship empowered BridesMade to make the key partnerships to create the product and deliver exactly what their clients were asking for.
What is Next for BridesMade?
Moving forward, BridesMade is planning for the launch of a new collection of dresses this December.
Thus far, BridesMade has been working weddings primarily in Southern Ontario. In 2018, BridesMade is expanding to provide dresses to weddings all across Canada. They are continuing to build out their software, new dress lines and scaling up their capacity to service weddings across Canada and beyond. Mallory and her Co-Founder are overjoyed at the journey they have had thus far and are excited to move forward and continue on with the upwards momentum and growth.